Three Precious Weeks
It's been exactly a week since my husband and I heard the words "we don't see anything" during my ultrasound at an ER visit. And it's hard to know what to say next about that or how to put it into words. But our experience of our miscarriage is shared below because it's important. It's important for other couples to know they aren't alone, that the emotions they might feel guilty for having are OK, and that other people go through this too without knowing exactly how to go through it.
Compared to how I found out I was pregnant with our daughter four years ago, this was a completely different ball game. We were actually TTC and our daughter was a complete shock. I also didn't know that I was pregnant until nearly 8 weeks along. This time around I got a positive test at three weeks! And I knew right away that keeping this to myself was going to be impossible. Maybe it's because our daughter had been outright asking us for a baby brother or sister or my line of work. But I knew I wouldn't be able to not share this exciting news.
I also knew far too many friends and family who have waited the incredibly long 12 weeks to tell family (some didn't even tell their spouse right away) for fear of this dreaded thing called a miscarriage. But this work that I do is largely focused on making pregnancy, birth, and parenthood the experience that YOU desire, not what some doctor or baby book says you should do. I also knew that the vulnerability that I was nervous to step into by sharing my fragile news was something I needed to push through.
"If I'm nervous to tell everyone that I'm very early in my pregnancy because I'm afraid of that level of intimacy and vulnerability with others, then that means I should probably share the news." -me, talking to a friend 2.5 weeks ago
My pregnancy with my daughter felt much more lonely than this very short one. Maybe it was because I had a very limited amount of people in my village back then because I had just moved to the area. These precious little weeks are some of the hardest, so why do we feel like we have to do them alone? By some weird twist of fate, my hearts desire to help normalize and create deeper connections with my village was fulfilled through the loss of our baby at six and a half weeks. And let me tell you, it helps to have your support peeps checking in on you. Here are a few things that I think help when you are going through this.
Open & Honest Friends
First off, the symptoms you start to experience that you hope aren't signs of a miscarriage are not easy to do alone nor keeping up your regular day. Cramping, bleeding, and trying to stay calm are not easy. But having friends you can call ask tough questions...friends who have been through this before and are gracious enough to share their experience make it not so scary. How much is too much pain? How long did your symptoms last? What did your doctor say to do? All of these questions (and many many more that my friends were amazingly honest with me) help to make you feel less crazy and less guilty. Normalizing miscarriage is about getting out of our own heads and saying the things that scare us.
A Gentle Partner
In my class we talk extensively how the birth partner can be sensitive to the emotions and needs of our laboring mommas. Miscarriage is very similar. You will be feeling all sorts of different emotions; wanting to push the experience away by distracting yourself, eating or not eating, getting angry, getting sad, going through the logical/medical reasons, and sometimes...dark humor. There is not a perfect or right way to react to this. And it might take you some time to let it all sink in. It might seem to your partner that you are a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. But having them just be there and accepting of how you will work through your own feelings can mean everything.
That being said...make time for them to feel as well. Talk openly with them about the disappoint of not having a baby to hold the month you were due, the baby gear you felt pressured to buy right away, or the way you both will heal from this. Plan a trip or an outing you've been putting off in way to focus on each other and reconnect.
Feel All the Feels
"This isn't fair...I did everything right." "Some people aren't even trying for a kid/don't seem to want one but they get one!" "What is wrong with my body?!"
There is no right or wrong way to react. You just have to let yourself have it all, exactly when it comes to you. My personal acceptance of it happened outside of Papa Joe's in Birmingham. My pain was at an all time high and my body wouldn't let me walk around and pick out a damn pizza! I was pissed. Then it all flooded in. the guilt, the fear, the shame...at this point we still didn't know if I was completely out of the woods as far as ectopic pregnancies go. So anxiety was a big part of my hurdles in those first few days. But here's the thing about emotions, if we don't allow time for them now, when will we in the future? But also don't feel awful when you don't burst into tears when the doctor in the ER says that you've lost the baby. Sometimes there are no words. Or tears for that matter.
I know this step can be the hardest for some of us but trust me when I say, vulnerability pays off. I'm feeling better everyday, both emotionally and physically, and I have stronger friendships to lean on. And even if you haven't been through this yourself but know someone who has, reach out to them. I was intimidated for years because of guilt. I felt like I never knew what to say when the subject came up with my friends who have lost their baby/babies. But don't let that get in the way of connecting with that woman. Chances are "I love you and I'm here for you" is all she might need.
Zach, Tegan, and I have been doing really well thanks to all you lovely humans who have reached out to us with love and compassion. It's mean the world to us. And yes, we did tell Tegan that our baby went to be with God in Heaven. After some explaining she showed some sadness and compassion for me since she knew I had been in pain and unable to pick her up like usual. But she is happy and looking forward to when mommy and daddy get her another baby. Lol!
As for me personally, I am happy to have my classes starting back up again and feeling more physically strong now. The emotions still appear randomly when something reminds me of my baby I never will meet but I know there is hope for more and I'm thankful to have my wonderful man with me through this. As he so gently said last week "That just wasn't our baby to keep."
Love to you all who read up until now and for those who have reached out, shared your story with me, and those whom I do not know but have traveled through this alone. You are one strong mother <3